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Virginia Democrats: Kind of Blue

The raft of incoming GOP lawmakers that flooded the rapidly reddening maps TV news outlets relentlessly flashed on election night did little to shake the resolve of Virginia Democrats.  

The slightly reshuffled crew, anchored by 11-term lawmaker Robert C. Scott, three-term member Gerald E. Connolly, and newly minted Rep.-elect Don Beyer, remained confident they could still effect change in the soon-to-be solidly Republican legislative branch .  

“We belong to a Commonwealth in which your diminishment is mine and your rights are also mine,” Connolly told attendees at a re-election night rally in the suburbs of Washington D.C. “[And] while we may take some knocks around the country tonight, I assure you those values are majority values and they are the values that are going to dominate polity going into this next half-century in America.”  

Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (center), flanked by his wife, Cathy (far left), his daughter, Caitlin (left), and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (right), during his 2014 victory speech. (Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Connolly (center), flanked by his wife, Cathy (far left), his daughter, Caitlin (left), and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (right), during his 2014 victory speech. (Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Beyer, the former two-term lieutenant governor of Virginia and ex-European ambassador moving into the post being vacated by retiring Rep. James P. Moran, D-Va., expressed optimism that compromise can still be reached on Capitol Hill.

Rep.-elect Don Beyer (center) accompanied by Virginia Gov. Terry McAullifee (rear) and his wife, Megan Beyer (right), during his 2014 victory speech. (Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

Beyer (center) accompanied by McAullifee (rear) and his wife, Megan Beyer (right), during his 2014 victory speech. (Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)

“I don’t want to overpromise, because I know that I’ll be a freshman in the minority. But I do want to take as much of the bitterness out of it [Congress] as I can,” he said, acknowledging that overcoming the hyperpartisanship that’s waylaid good governance for the past several years remains a formidable challenge. “I’m going to go up there and try to build as many constructive relationships as I can, across party lines, and hope that together we can get some things done.”  

Per Scott, who noted that he’d served in the state Senate during Beyer’s tenure as lieutenant governor, suggested the worldly pol be a natural fit in the tightly knit delegation.  

“I think he’ll be able to jump in on just about any issue,” Scott predicted. “He’s a hard worker.”  

Scott, too, plans to hit the ground running next session.  

“I look forward to serving as the senior Democrat on the Education and Workforce Committee,” Scott shared of his own ambitions for the 114th Congress.  

Connolly planned to help welcome Beyer into the fold by sponsoring his inclusion in the New Democrat Coalition. “So we’ll be collaborating on innovative issues,” Connolly predicted.  

As for the lame duck, Connolly pegged passage of a clean budget resolution and adoption of sweeping immigration policy changes as his top priorities.  

“But that may be a bridge too far,” he hinted.  

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